Just Transition in Practice: Sustainable projects in coal regions

A new report by The Green Tank titled Just Transition in Practice: Sustainable projects in coal regions presents specific examples of projects contributing to the sustainable transformation of coal regions across Europe.

Just Transition, which is one of the three main objectives of the EU Green Deal, has reached a crucial stage. Firstly, the drafting and assessment by the European Commission of the Territorial Just Transition Plans (TJTPs) – a prerequisite for the disbursement of funds from the Just Transition Mechanism – is fully underway. In parallel, the energy price crisis, which has intensified since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, renders the independence from fossil fuels a top priority, as reflected in the REPowerEU plan that was recently presented by the European Commission.

Therefore, at this juncture, the implementation of sustainable and socially just investments in transition regions, which are also in line with the key priorities of REPowerEU, become more necessary than ever. Contributing in this direction, The Green Tank’s new report titled “Just Transition in Practice: Sustainable projects in coal regions”, presents projects that can serve as a guide for the design of Territorial Just Transition Plans aimed at the sustainable transformation of local economies in coal regions.

The report is structured in the following seven sections, representing distinct investment categories:

  • Renewables: This section presents projects that preserve the energy character of coal regions but at the same time transform them into large and small renewable energy hubs. It also includes a distinct sub-section on energy communities.
  • Energy Storage: This section presents electricity storage projects, of various technologies.
  • Primary Sector: This section gives emphasis to projects that aim to combine agricultural practices with the production of clean energy through the development of agro-photovoltaic systems.
  • Tourism: This section presents a series of tourism-oriented projects that showcase the industrial heritage of coal regions as well as transform former coal regions into attractive recreational hubs.
  • Sustainable mobility: This section presents projects that contribute to the decarbonisation of the transport sector.
  • Reskilling: This section lists best practices in upskilling or reskilling programs aiming to support the shift of local communities to other sectors of the economy.
  • Economic Zones – Innovation: This section presents best practices in designing and developing various forms of economic zones in coal regions as an organizational framework for providing services and incentives for the development of new, sustainable economic activities.

“In order to successfully address the unprecedented and urgent need to transform the entire economic and social model of coal regions in transition, in the midst of the energy crisis and war in Europe, it is important to build on the experience gained so far. With this new report we are publishing today, we aim at creating a pool of examples and best practices from which regions and interested investors can draw ideas to adapt and develop their planning according to the characteristics of each region. In this way, the available resources will be used effectively to achieve the common European REPowerEU objectives, while ensuring that no one is left behind in Europe’s path of independence from fossil fuels”, says Nikos Mantzaris, Senior Policy Analyst at Green Tank.

You may read the full text of the report here.

The projects are depicted in the interactive map below: